It's something we all struggle with. It's what can cause or moods to go from 'happy-go-lucky' to 'talk to me again and I'll punch you in the face'. It dictates what we wear, our attitudes towards others, and our outlook on ourselves. I'm talking about a little word called...
That's not even a little word. It's a big word, with an even bigger meaning. The meaning in which we struggle to find all our lives. I struggle to find it everyday. Confidence is the key; it's the key to overall happiness, health, and life.
I truly believe that accepting yourself is the most challenging and mentally exhausting things you could do. I also truly believe that it is a beautiful process. It's a roller coaster of days where you look in the mirror and think, "damn, who's dat hottie?!" and days you look in the mirror pinching all of your flaws, trying to smooth out the areas that you think should be flatter. I've found that the longer you stare at yourself in the mirror, the more you notice your "flaws", flaws that might not even be there. Our eyes tend to play tricks on us, morphing our true image of our self perspective. We all have something we don't like about our appearance, but some people have the ability to not let it affect their day, happiness, and self image. For those who do let it affect their lives greatly, suffer from an actual disorder called "body dysmorphic disorder". BDD is a disorder in which an individual analyzes themselves in detail for extended periods of time, picking out flaws that are nonexistent. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but if this is you, please seek help immediately.
During the 5 year peak of my eating disorder, I would wake up everyday and look down at my flaws. I would hope that my stomach would be smaller, my thighs slimmer, and other "flaws" had disappeared. If the way I looked wasn't up to Ed's standards, my day would automatically be ruined. My attitude would suck. I would sit in my dark room for hours. I wouldn't talk to anyone. Ed made me think, "You don't deserve to talk to anyone knowing that you look like that. No one wants to talk to something who doesn't have a thigh gap." Sadly, I would believe him. I believed him for half a decade.
Do I still have days where I wake up and struggle with my body image and confidence? Of course. But what I have learned, is that it's a choice. Every morning you wake up with a choice. You can either decide that you're going to be happy and give off positive vibes, or you can decide that you're going to sit in your room and pick out flaws that aren't event there.
After many, many, MANY days of trial and error, I have found some coping methods that help me deal with bad days, body image, and self acceptance.
Remind yourself of these things:
(courtesy of NEDA)
- Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body keeps you alive and breathing. It allows you to dance, run, walk, laugh, smile, and so much more.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself. YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY.
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel. Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.
- Eliminate people and social media outlets that cause you to compare yourself to others. You are not a fitness model. You are not a tumblr girl. Those images are so edited. You are you, and that is more than enough.
- Do something nice for yourself--something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
- Tell yourself you are beautiful. Actually look in the mirror, and say it outloud.
The truth is, no one looks at you and thinks, "She doesn't have a thigh gap, so I'm definitely not going to talk to her." You are the only one who thinks that. You have so much more to offer than just your appearance. I would say that the biggest thing that stops me from accepting myself some days is comparing myself to others. STOP comparing yourself. I am at fault of this. It's so hard not to scroll through your social media accounts and think, "Why can't I look like her?". You can't avoid these people, it's a part of every day life. Deal with it. Accept you will never look like them, you will only look like you. Move on with your day.
Self acceptance is a choice. It's a journey. It's frustrating. It's a life long process. Slowly, everyday, I accept myself more and more. I have learned that I am happiest doing what works for me. Not being on a program, listening to my body (still working on this), lifting heavy, and eating my pints of Ben & Jerry weekly. I appreciate my body and all that I've put it through. I no longer pinch at the flaws I wish were gone. I have been waking up everyday happy. I look forward to tomorrow, I reflect on yesterday and grin, and I truly smile in the moment...and it is a beautiful feeling.